Entries Tagged 'White Supremacism' ↓
Juli 21st, 2015 — English, White Supremacism
Since the publication of CounterPunch or Suckerpunch?, my Twitter feed has been bombarded with attacks from people who take issue with some aspect or other of my critique of fascist and white-supremacist ideology and ideologues. Many of those who have been offended by the article take me to task for things that really merit no detailed refutation, such as the claim that I equate opposition to US-Israeli crimes with white supremacism. No examples of statements by me that would support such charges are forthcoming, because none exist.
However, much has been made of my use of the concept of conspiracism, and that, I think, does merit some response in order to differentiate between how I am accused of using the term (despite defining it quite explicitly) and how I actually define it. Although those who have attacked my use of the concept have made it clear that they do not do so in the best of faith, some might well be confused by their distortions. As such, I will endeavour below to set out my working definition of conspiracism even more explicitly.
It seems worthwhile to start with what conspiracism is not. Conspiracism is not, first of all, any interpretation or explanation of events that conflicts with an official narrative, even if that interpretation or explanation should ultimately prove false. Nor does the concept of conspiracism extend to all investigation and examination of actual or suspected conspiracies. Conspiracies certainly exist; listing examples is trivial (Watergate, the overthrow of Allende in Chile, COINTELPRO, or the conspiracy of the US consulate and embassy in Santiago to kill Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, recently demonstrated following a lengthy judicial inquiry in Chile).
In short, then, a hypothesis does not constitute conspiracism merely because it posits the existence of a conspiracy, nor does it become conspiracism simply because it ultimately proves false. These are empirical questions that can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis.
Nor does the concept require a person to believe in every conspiracy ‚theory‘ that’s going. Indeed, to require that would be patently absurd, since such ‚theories‘ are often mutually exclusive. A person who believes the Nazi myth about the power of the Rothschild family is no less a conspiracist because she does not buy into controlled demolition. To say otherwise would be akin to calling the pope an atheist because he believes in Catholicism, but not Hinduism.
Rather, conspiracism is a habit of thought, or analytical mode, as I have described it elsewhere. It is a profoundly Manichaean view that sees the plotting of shadowy elites as the motor of human history. It is characterised not so much by specific ‚theories‘ (for conspiracists are a deeply sectarian lot and jealously defend their own beliefs against the proponents of alternate versions), as by a specific style of argument and a highly particular brand of ‚activism‘. From my own observations of, and interactions with, these circles, I have found the following characteristics to be consistent features of the conspiracist worldview:
- The preference of an individualistic, moralising view of power over any form of class analysis. Conspiracists see the evil of a handful of individuals behind the injustices of capitalism rather than a set of material social relations giving rise to specific classes with specific interests and a specific array of forces between them. This is an essentially conservative worldview where the problem is the venality of the court, rather than monarchy itself. As such, it lends itself to conservative solutions, e.g., replacing those in power rather than abolishing the system that allows them to wield power.
- Non-falsifiability: There is no evidence that is capable of refuting a conspiracist’s pet narrative. Indeed, the lack of supporting evidence – or the existence of contrary evidence – serves only to prove the awesome power and foresight of the conspirators. An example of this thinking can be seen in the Pentagon Papers, the classified internal record of the US occupation of Indochina. One pet project of US intelligence was to prove that the indigenous peasant resistance in Vietnam was armed, funded, and controlled by Moscow, ‚Peiping‘, or both. After years of evidence gathered in the field showed that the National Liberation Front were only using weapons they had captured from the French and US occupation forces, or had improvised themselves, the intelligence analysts concluded that this proved that Moscow and/or ‚Peiping‘ had such total control that there was no need to issue orders or send weapons.
- Strict binarism: Either one buys into the particular narrative a conspiracist espouses, or one bust support the ‚official story‘. The possibility that someone might reject both is excluded a priori. This gives conspiracists a perceived monopoly on dissent.
- No good-faith, informed scepticism: Conspiracism leaves no room for the possibility that someone might consider the available evidence and reach a different conclusion. The conspiracist’s preferred version is a Self-Evident Truth, and anyone who does not see that is either a dupe (’sheeple‘) or – if their counterargument is good – actively working for the enemy. This creates a cult-like solidarity (in the face of an exponentially growing conspiracy) combined with immense in-group pressure not to express any dissent. If you dissent, you must be One Of Them.
- The absence of concrete proposals: Conspiracists rarely have much in the way of concrete solutions to offer. Mostly, they believe that things will sort themselves out if only the ’sheeple‘ learn ‚the truth‘. Beyond platitudes like ‚WAKE UP‘ or the call to ‚take back America‘ (often paired with the invocation of a past age of goodness and legitimate government), conspiracism offers no real programme of action. Because conspiracism is, however, never short on convenient scapegoats, it provides a fertile ground for fascism and other reactionary ideologies that seek to pre-empt any revolutionary social change, as well as ‚good-faith distraction material‘ (to quote a leaked Booz Allen Hamilton memo on declassification policy) to keep people busy who might otherwise organise in a fashion more threatening to power.
Juli 19th, 2015 — Allgemein, General, Rassismus, USA, White Supremacism
How ‚America’s Best Political Newsletter‘ Mainstreams the Far Right
CounterPunch, which bills itself as ‚America’s best political newsletter‘, offering ‚independent investigative journalism‘, tends to figure quite prominently in the reading lists of left-leaning activists, who doubtlessly appreciate its consistent antiwar stance, its critical analysis on US economic and foreign policy and US-sponsored Israeli apartheid, and the regular contributions from such leading Left writers as John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Paul Street, Jeremy Scahill, and Tariq Ali. Indeed, CounterPunch generally tends to be thought of as a Left media outlet. However, in writing for, and sharing articles published on, CP, Leftists are unwittingly helping to promote the agenda of the far right. Continue reading →
November 24th, 2014 — General, Parodie & Satire, Rassismus, White Supremacism
DON’T THEY KNOW IT’S BOLLOCKS
(To the tune of ‚Don’t They Know It’s Christmas‘)
It’s Christmas time – just don’t turn on your TV.
At Christmas time, the shite they show’s no good for you or me.
If you just avoid the telly you can spread a smile of joy,
That’s how you keep your supper down at Christmas time.
But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
Stuck home watching Geldof and just yearning for a gun.
There are rich folks on the telly
wanting you to know they care,
come to beg you for your money,
so they can hold on to theirs.
And the Christmas songs they sing there are pure bourgeois wankery
So tonight thank god you’ve got a DVD.
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
(because most places there it’s summer, you gobshite)
Where nothing ever grows,
(‚cept the cash crops we all know).
Did you lot even research this at all?
Here’s to you
By now you must want a drink.
Every yuletide they’re here to pimp the poor,
in Africa – the poverty here they ignore.
Here’s to them,
With their exiled bank accounts.
Every year it’s the same old act –
Why don’t these bastards just pay their tax?
Don’t they know it’s bollocks, after all?
Februar 16th, 2013 — General, Israel-Palästina, USA, White Supremacism
Recently, following a discussion about a particularly annoying Facebook meme circling in left-liberal circles of late, C. Derick Varn of The Loyal Opposition to Modernity asked if I would be interested in being interviewed on the subject. I was, and the result was a wide-ranging discussion on the causes and remedies of left malaise in the US, entryism, misogyny, conspiracism, The entire interview, which can be found on the Loyal Opposition blog, is reproduced by permission below. I have added a few links to articles and pages referenced in the discussion, and corrected a few annoying typos that I had overlooked.
I would like to thank Derick for this opportunity. This interview allowed me to articulate quite a few thoughts that had been circling around my mind for a long time, but that I had not previously been able to set down in a cohesive manner. I would also like to thank Emma Rosenthal of Café Intifada, Jinjirrie of Kadaitcha, and Karen MacRae – discussing and working together with them has been a major help in formulating and refining the thoughts you will find below.
Continue reading →
Februar 14th, 2013 — English, General, Israel-Palästina, Rassismus, White Supremacism
Jon „Yani“ Haigh: Jews Suck, USAID Doesn’t
In the last two parts of this series, published in this past fall, we met Jon „Yani“ Haigh, who injected himself into the Greta Berlin debacle by signing an open letter along with multiple virulent racists and several sockpuppet accounts, that claimed that there was nothing racist going on in the racist troll groups where Greta Berlin found the holocaust denial video that she posted on the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) Twitter account.
Haigh, who lives in Brisbane, Queensland, works with a politically connected Republican lawyer by the name of Kamal Nawash. As discussed in greater detail in the first two parts of the series, Nawash, following a failed run for the Virginia State Assembly, decided to found a group called Free Muslims Coalition Against Terror, an astroturf operation that serves to root out „extremist Muslims“ and generally provides an Arab/Muslim fig leaf for repressive US government policies.
These are, to be sure, strange bedfellows for anyone who, like Haigh, claims to be a Palestinian solidarity activist. As we will see in the following, however, they are not the only ones.
In the course of my research for this series, I was made aware that Haigh, with Kamal Nawash and one Rafi Gassel, had cowritten a roughly US$1 million USAID grant application for a project called „The Path to a Shared Future“. The project, we discover in the Background section, builds on a previous effort known as „Best Plans“.
Best Plans: US Government-Affiliated Normalisation
„Best Plans“ is a „glimmer of hope in a sea of hate„, according to a Jerusalem Post article by fellow „Free Muslims“ board member Ray Hanania, which also describes an effort called the „Israel-Palestine Confederation“, headed up by Nawash associate Josef Avesar.
Held at the University Centre of Samaria, an institution located in the illegal settlement of Ariel, the group brought together a group of mostly right-wing Israeli Jewish students with a „smattering“ of Palestinian citizens of Israel and „some two dozen“ Palestinians from the West Bank for open-ended brainstorming on „peace plans“, ranging from Israeli Jewish participants‘ plans to culturally assimilate Palestinians into the colonial society of Israel or to extend apartheid from the river to the sea, with citizenship „after an unspecified period of time“ for Palestinians who profess loyalty to a state that is explicitly not theirs, to Kamal Nawash’s plan for an „Israeli-Palestinian Confederation“.
It seems to have been a good strategic choice to hold the Best Plans conference in the segregated colony of Ariel, where Palestinians are banned from entering without special dispensation from the authorities, rather than occupied East Jerusalem, where Avesar decided to hold his „Israeli-Palestinian Confederation“ mock elections. Avesar’s conference had to find new accommodations after Palestinian anti-apartheid activists became aware of it.
Protesters gathered outside the hotel to condemn the process of normalization of the occupation promoted by the conference, amidst the collapse of the peace process, continuing settlement construction and the confiscation of Palestinian land.
Conference events taking place in Beit Jalah and Haifa over the next few days have promoted a false illusion of Palestine already being liberated and contributed to the normalization of the Israeli occupation. One demonstrator commented that “how would such a confederation even be possible under the occupation?”
The management of the Ambassador Hotel announced their decision to cancel the conference events in a printed statement posted at the hotel’s entrance. A hotel manager stated that “we have been manipulated by the conference organizers, who did not reveal to us its real purposes. We refuse to take part in their attempts to veil the reality of Palestinian suffering.”
The criticisms raised by the Palestinian activists concerning the Avesar event apply in equal measure to the Nawash „Best Plans“ conference: Both violate the Palestinian call to boycott „normalisation“ events, i.e., events that bring Israeli Jews and Palestinians together to „sort out differences“ without acknowledging the real context of inequality and oppression. Under the anti-normalisation prong of the Palestinian-led Boycott/Divestiture/Sanctions campaign, collaborative activities between Israeli Jews and Palestinians must explicitly state their opposition and resistance to the oppression of the indigenous Palestinian population.
One can imagine how well that plan would have gone over with the right-wing Israeli Jewish participants of the Nawash conference.
Towards a Normalised Future
Haigh acknowledges cowriting USAID application
The programme discussed in the USAID application turns out to be an expansion on the „Best Plans“ normalisation conferences. In the words of the application:
This proposal involves the selection of two teams of Palestinians and Israelis who are representative of the various ideologies, views and schools of thought that are found in Palestinian and Israeli societies. The two teams, made up of approximately six individuals each, will be required to attend organized workshops and seminars throughout Palestine and Israel to engage Israelis and Palestinians who are representative of the general populations about the minimum contacts, rights and access that they would require to accept a political solution. The seminars will not presume a particular solution such as two-state or one-state solution. The actual proposed solution or solutions will be attempted at the end of the process after the Israeli and Palestinian teams become exposed to the wishes of population and share their findings in the structured reporting process.
This is the definition of astroturfing. Some unspecified persons – one assumes it will be Nawash and his „Free Muslims“ mob – will select two teams of Palestinians and Israelis (Jewish Israelis, one assumes) who they deem „representative“ of the spectrum of thought found in Palestinian and Israeli-Jewish society. Those teams will carry out what amount to glorified focus groups throughout Israel and the territories occupied since 1967 to engage Israeli Jews and Palestinians who are „representative“ about their bare minimum requirements for a political solution. After the focus groups, the two teams will develop the „actual proposed solution“ based on their understanding of the wishes of the „representative“ people who came to their focus groups.
In addition to being „representative“ in the opinion of the „Free Muslims“, these team members must also be „articulate speakers and writers with academic credentials who are able to report without adding, subtracting or reframing discussion content.“ In other words, they must come from the more privileged sectors of the society, particularly given the severely limited access to education (especially higher education) for Palestinians.
No information is provided on how the „representative“ focus group participants will be selected, or by whom. Crucially, there is no provision for participation by the communities themselves in defining the conditions and manner of their participation, nor any indication that the communities themselves would have any say in deciding who is „representative“ and who is not. Every bit of the process is top-down, with the US government-linked „Free Muslims“ deciding who participates, whom to listen to, and how to describe the wishes of their hand-picked participants.
„Importantly“, the proposal adds, „the teams will be ‘locked down’ together in a conducive environment (like the Dead Sea Resort) for a period of no less than 5 days before any conferences for a series of workshops on using technology, deal [sic] with objections, managing public discourse and workshop the conference process and the content.“ „Dealing with objections“ is sales-speak for wheedling a customer into saying yes to something they don’t actually want to buy. „Managing public discourse“ once again emphasises that it is the „Free Muslims“ team members who are managing the process, not the local communities. Their „discourse“ must be managed, rather than simply being listened to.
After the initial conferences are complete, the two teams will be required to submit individual or joint proposals for peaceful solutions based on the feedback that was learned from the conferences.
Each team will be asked to try to reach an agreement on a proposed solution for the Palestinian Israel conflict. However, individual group members may submit their own proposal if they do not agree with a proposal by one or more group members.
The teams will then be required to submit their various proposals to representative audiences in Israel and Palestine. The proposal envisions six additional conferences with three in Israel and three in Palestine to test the proposals on representative audiences. The audiences will be encouraged to give their feedback on the respective proposals. Following the conferences and the feedback from the audiences, the teams will be required to reevaluate their proposals and determine whether the proposals may require amendments or improvements.
In other words, after the handpicked teams work out amongst themselves what proposals they can agree on based on what they were able to glean from the „managed discourse“ of the „representative“ community members who participated in the focus groups, the teams then go before more „representative audiences“ (it is unclear whether these are the same „representative“ audiences as the initial focus groups). These „representative“ audiences will then provide „feedback“, which will be reevaluated in order to determine whether the teams‘ proposals will require amendments.
Just to hammer home the importance of being „representative“, the working language will not be the native languages of the communities in question:
The experience gained in The Best Plans Project indicate that people are capable of using English as the working language with translations to Hebrew and Arabic.
James Linden Rose, listed as one of the team members, explains his „best plan“ for the Palestinian solidarity movement.
So, in addition to whatever criteria the „Free Muslims“ will use to determine whether a focus group participant is „representative“, the „representatives“ must also have at least a working knowledge of English – which is the native language of many Jewish Israelis (including the current PM), but much less accessible to Palestinians with their limited educational opportunities – thus further restricting the field. It is not entirely clear whether „translations“ means that there will be interpreters present (yet another layer of mediation between the communities and „their“ plans), or whether only the written documents produced by the teams will be translated.
One can be excused for thinking at this point that this is remarkably similar to the US occupation régime’s plan for „caucuses“ as a substitute for actual elections in Iraq. However, that plan may actually have involved fewer levels of mediation by „representatives“ selected by outsiders.
But wait, there’s more…
After the proposals are tested before representative audiences, the two teams will then meet for face to face peace negotiations to write a peace agreement. If no united peace agreement is reached by consensus, then the two groups will be required to attempt to reach a proposal by majority vote, where as the preferred method is consensus.
If an agreement is reached the solution will be distributed to the populations via newspaper advertisements, electronic media and other written and multimedia dissemination processes. The website will be updated and adapted to allow people to read the final proposal, comment on it and cast a vote for or against the proposal.
So, after „representative“ team members selected by outsiders conduct focus groups with „representatives“ selected by outsiders and decide amongst themselves what they think the handpicked focus group participants want, and then focus group that proposal with even more „representatives“ selected by outsiders, the two initial groups of „representatives“ selected by outsiders will come together to decide on a „united peace agreement“ amongst themselves. If, and only if, the „representatives“ are able to reach a consensus will the public as a whole be let in on the proposals, and given an unmediated opportunity to comment on them and vote for or against them.
Essentially, then, the idea is to do a community theatre production of the bogus „peace process“ with limited public participation only at the fag end of the process.
The authors of this application – Nawash, Haigh, and Gassel – are not unaware of the Palestinian movement against „normalisation“ with the apartheid system, discussed above. Indeed, they expressly acknowledge its existence, and state that „The two teams must work independently (…) to avoid the anti-normalization concerns in which Palestinians are discouraged from working closely with Israelis.“ Which is to say that, rather than honour the anti-normalisation campaign, they seek to circumvent it by claiming that Israeli Jews and Palestinians working on this normalisation project are not really normalising because they aren’t working on the same project in the same place at the same time.
However, it would be unfair to say that the Towards a Shared Future project doesn’t include any innovative elements. It does, chief amongst them the element of surreptitious electronic surveillance. The USAID application includes funding for the purchase of fifteen pairs of „ZionEyez“ (now Zeyez) sunglasses „built-in HD camera, microphone, recording media and interface live to mobile phones“.
„These glasses“, it is noted in a footnote, „are high quality and very difficult to pick as being other than normal Raybans. They provide an ability to record events without creating a sense of ‘cameras are watching me everywhere’.“
The USAID: An Odd Partner for Social Justice Activists
Perhaps more significant than the content of the application itself is the source of the funding sought: the US Agency for International Development.
Whilst it presents itself publicly as a humanitarian aid agency helping benighted populations out of poverty, in reality, the agency is an instrument of US foreign policy, often working in tandem with another, better known, Agency. Recently, the Venezuelan-led ALBA (Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América – Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America) states voted to expel USAID from their territory, following the „parliamentary coup“ that ousted centre-left Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, replacing him with a politician more willing to make deals with foreign mining corporations.
This is just the most recent in a long series of coups supported in one way or another by USAID activities. In the 1960s and 1970s, USAID provided torture training and equipment to Uruguayan „security“ forces, as was revealed when USAID torture instructor Dan Mitrione was captured by the Tupamaro guerrilla organisation. Similarly, USAID provided support for the military dictatorship in Brazil, the murderous „Baby Doc“ Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti, and, more recently, was implicated in US-instigated 2002 coup against Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez according to the documents unearthed by lawyer and researcher Eva Golinger. USAID’s role in the current murderous coup/occupation regime in Haiti is also a matter of record.
When first confronted with the USAID connection, Yani Haigh defended the agency, stating that it is merely an agency that „distributes money based on criteria“.
This is undeniably true:
Where there is a subservient dictatorship, USAID helps prop it up. Where there is a disobedient government, USAID works with other CIA associates like the „National Endowment for Democracy“ and the „International Republican Institute“ to „enhance civil society“, i.e., to finance and provide propaganda for right-wing groups willing to overthrow the miscreants.
In short, USAID is about as likely an instrument of justice for the Palestinians as, well, the „Free Muslims against Terror“.
The USAID application includes a somewhat detailed bio/CV of Jon „Yani“ Haigh, revealing that the „Free Muslims“ and the USAID application discussed above are by far not the end of the story. Haigh’s other dubious connections will be discussed in the next instalment.
In a comment below, Haigh writes:
Anyone on that list will tell you that I never buckle to Zionists, sexists, homophobes, abuse or liars.
Fortunately, Haigh has a track record on this subject, which allows us to see exactly how strong a stance he takes against sexist abuse, in particular:
Yani Haigh: Sylvia Posadas and I are „fat ugly bitches“
Haigh: „They need to have their wombs out.“
Haigh’s literal witch hunt.
Oktober 21st, 2012 — English, Israel-Palästina, Justiz, Krieg, Rassismus, USA, White Supremacism
Part II of the Series:
A Who’s Who of the „Free Muslims Board
In Part I of this series, we examined the activities of Jon „Yani“ Haigh, a longtime Queensland resident who operates and monitors a network of racist troll groups on Facebook, and Kamal Nawash (for whom Haigh provides a range of web design and programming services) of the „Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror“ , a group that advocates the political repression and surveillance of the US Arab and Muslim communities (related to the Facebook group „Free Muslims“). This, the second part of the series, examines some of the other shady characters who make up the „Free“ Muslims Coalition.
The board of the Free Muslims are exactly what you’d expect of a group with the stated purpose of putting a Muslim face on the plethora of repressive measures, human rights violations, and outright war crimes that make up the „war on terror“.
Particularly fitting is the presence on the Board of Ray Hanania, who began his career as a journo in Chicago, covering local and regional politics for the Sun-Times and other print, radio, and TV outlets. During this period, he also hosted call-in radio chatshows on WLS, and appeared regularly on Dick Kay’s City Desk on WMAQ-TV. In 1990, he served as a panellist at the Chicago mayoral debate, which resulted in yet another electoral victory for the Daley clan. Two years later, he delved headfirst into the world of Chicago machine politics, founding the Urban Strategies Group, a full-service PR agency whose clients include Mayor-For-Life Daley himself, various city agencies, aldermen, Democratic committeemen, and „three successful candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives“.
Hanania boasts particular expertise in „crisis management“ for „those with serious public relation [sic] challenges“. One imagines that such expertise was quite useful during his stint providing „basic media training“ to the propaganda agency of Israel’s „Palestinian Authority“. Nor could it have hurt when he was called upon by the U.S. State Department and U.S. „Information“ Agency to „provide media training sessions, meetings and presentations…to foreign media and government officials.“ Continue reading →
Oktober 18th, 2012 — English, General, Israel-Palästina, Rassismus, USA, White Supremacism
Part I of a Series on Racism and Infiltration
In the aftermath of the racist tweet and multiple, contradictory „explanations“ by Greta Berlin, much attention has been focussed on the letter published as an appendix to Larry Derfner’s second article on the subject, in which a number of purported members of the „secret group“ corroborate Berlin’s claim that nothing untoward or anti-Semitic was going on in the group in question. Benjamin Doherty revealed, in successive articles on Electronic Intifada, that a number of the signatories were in fact sockpuppets controlled by one Ofer Engel. Another central figure, however, has largely avoided the spotlight.
Before we proceed, however, it is important to keep in mind that the following is not about any one individual, though a number of individuals will be given their time to shine. No, this is about the Palestinian solidarity movement as a whole: What we are and seek to do as a movement, and those who would hijack us for their own purposes.
Yani Haigh and The Trollpen
Jon „Yani“ Haigh: Not One for Subtlety
The final signatory on the „nothing to see here“ letter is a Queensland web designer and photographer by the name of Jon „Yani“ Haigh. He is, in Facebook terminology, the „owner“ of the „secret group“ Any Topic NOT Israel (and a regular in a number of related groups), and operates a number of anonymous and aesthetically nondescript websites, including thebestplans.org and peacearchitects.org.
This article, the first in a series dealing with the activities and associates of Jon „Yani“ Haigh, will seek to provide a brief introduction to Haigh himself, and his close associate Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. In future articles, we will look at other figures on the „Free Muslims“ Board, including the inimitable Ray Hanania, and other organisations and agencies with which Haigh and his associates collaborate.
Jon „Yani“ Haigh: Jews suck
A recurring theme in his posts is that „Jews suck“, and can only redeem themselves by being baptised Christian, and by boycotting Jewish community institutions and events (along the lines of Herskowitz‘ schul picket). Alternatively, repentant Jews may simply send money to peacearchitects.org. Conflict, unsurprisingly, follows Haigh like the CIA follows Julian Assange.
The same can be said of other regulars of the „secret group“ and affiliated groups, such as fellow signatory Kyle O’Laughlin, who divides his time in Any Topic NOT Israel fairly evenly between complaining that African-American pride is welcomed whilst „White Pride“ is – shockingly enough – considered racist and posting links together with his comrade James Linden Rose on how the KKK and other white supremacist groups are in fact Jewish front groups designed to make white people look bad and thwart Ron Paul’s perennial presidential run.
„KKKyle“ O’Laughlin Laments That „White Pride“ is Considered Racist
Whilst the groups Any Topic NOT Israel, Our Land, and Free Muslims all have anodyne descriptions about getting to know each other and coming up with plans for peace, etc., and mission statements banning racism and flaming, the groups themselves bear little resemblance to these noble sentiments. In point of fact, the groups operate as a breeding and training ground for trolls, particularly those (like O’Laughlin, Linden Rose, and Haigh) of the white supremacist variety, mixed together with a few of the more vocal Zionist trolls. There, they engage in their preferred versions of racism, and hurl accusations back and forth about collaboration, snitching, and participation in world conspiracies of one sort or another, with little to no moderation in sight. One does have to wonder what the purpose of creating and administering a network of racist trollpens would be.
Greta Berlin, as luck would have it, is a member in several of these groups, though the exact
James Linden Rose on „Rule By Jew“
circumstances of her joining them will likely remain unclear, given the fog of bullshit that surrounds her and her cohorts‘ descriptions of the groups.
The Company He Keeps
Yani Haigh, it must be said, is a rather embarrassing person to have vouch for one’s anti-racist credentials. Indeed, were it not for his signature on the „nothing to see here“ letter and the creepily detailed set of mindmaps with which, by his own account, he monitors over 200 Facebook groups „to track troublemakers“, he would be an annoying boor of little consequence; he would merely be someone to avoid sitting in front of at the Gabba when the footie’s on, but would not merit much attention beyond that.
However, over the course of the past week, facts have emerged to place Haigh’s combination of racist boorishness and meticulous surveillance into a broader context. One of the websites Haigh designed and operates, thebestplans.org, is that of an organisation founded by one Kamal Nawash, Esq., Haigh’s employer and fellow member of the groups in question.
Kamal Nawash is a Palestinian-American lawyer, with an LL.M. from American University’s Washington College of Law.
After a stint as counsel for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), in 2003, apparently with the support of hard-right Republican activist Grover Norquist, Nawash stood for election to a seat in the Virginia state Senate. His Senate run was ultimately unsuccessful due to the general climate of scapegoating and criminalisation of Muslim and Arab life in the US.
Some might be led by such an experience to campaign against racism and bigotry. Not Kamal Nawash. Shortly after his electoral defeat, Nawash founded the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terror (and later, its Facebook counterpart, the group „Free Muslims“), an organisation largely dedicated to providing public relations cover to US government repression of the Arab and Muslim community. One view one finds repeated throughout the autobiographies of the Free Muslims Board members is that it is Muslim ideology – and not, say, decades of murderous US and US-sponsored violence against them and their countries – that is at fault for any problems in the Muslim community and the Middle East.
In 2004, the Free Muslims organised a March Against Terror, which was endorsed by a diverse cross-section of people and organisations dedicated to bigotry against Arabs and Muslims (such as Daniel Pipes), to organisations and people dedicated to more general bigotry (RIGHTALK.com), to fellow alibi Muslims such as Zuhdi Jasser of the „American Islamic Forum for Democracy“, to a wide assortment of right-wing organisations that no one had ever heard of and/or offer no proof that they actually exist (such as the „Government of Free Vietnam“, made up of former officials from the US puppet dictatorship who claim to be the legitimate government on account of having been elected fair and square to the position by four US presidents in a row).
Apparently, Nawash’s March Against Terror (and explicitly in support of Bush) caught a few eyes in Washington, because, in 2005, he was rewarded by the Bush White House with an appointment as US envoy to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Around the same time (2003-2007), Nawash began contributing to FrontPagemag.com, the far-right blog run by Stalinist-turned-fascist David Horowitz, who also operates the neo-McCarthyite campus group CampusWatch and the right-wing private intelligence organisation Discover The Networks. Nawash’s articles include titles such as We Are So Sorry for 9-11, French Riots: A Gift from the Open Borders Lobby, and the KCNA-esque Free Muslims Congratulate President George Bush.
This period in the life of Kamal Nawash has been very helpfully chronicled by none other than Daniel Pipes himself. As of 11 September 2003, Nawash earned a strong blast of scorn from the Pipes for suggesting that the Bush administration’s „anti-terrorism“ (i.e., pro-repression) plan raised concerns about „basic Constitutional rights“:
Of particular interest (given that several 9/11 hijackers used a student cover), is Nawash’s objection to the U.S. government tracking foreign students, protesting (nonsensically) that this step would indicate „a willingness to restrict scientific knowledge and scholarship to certain classes of people and to flout, basically, principles of academic freedom.“ Sounds like this man opposes the war on terrorism; in any case, he sure makes for a strange Republican candidate.
Throughout 2003, Pipes had nothing but contempt for Nawash, who was raising objections to the Clinton-era Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows the executive branch unilaterally to ban organisations as „terrorist organisations“, and criminalises anyone associated with them, criticising the designation of Palestinian groups disfavoured by the US regime as „terrorist“, and generally raising fairly mild questions about the human rights implications of the „war on terror“. Of US Senator John Warner (R-VA), who had endorsed Nawash’s candidacy for the Virginia state Senate, Pipes wrote: „Virginians might wish to inform their senior senator that he is, to put it mildly, going out on a limb on this one.“
By 2004, however, another tune began to be blown on the Pipes. In noting Nawash’s formation of the Free Muslims group, Pipes writes:
It sounds good and it has been getting lots of good publicity, but given Nawash’s record on terrorism, as established here (his dismissing the concept, his close ties to a person alleged to fund terrorism), I need to be convinced that this leopard has changed his spots.
By 2005, we find Pipes explicitly endorsing the Free Muslims March Against Terror, particularly chuffed that one Khaleel Mohammed „denounc[ed] CAIR“.
Whilst Pipes begins expressing sceptical endorsement (and Pipes has no other kind of endorsement on offer for Arabs and Muslims), by 2006, some within the exceedingly mild-mannered antidiscrimination group CAIR were expressing concern with Nawash and the way in which his remarks were eagerly snapped up by the likes of Daniel Pipes.
In two short years, Kamal Nawash went, in the mind of racist „smearcaster“ Daniel Pipes, from something akin to the 20th hijacker to one of the Good Muslims. A remarkable transformation, to say the least.
Pipes‘ timeline ends in 2008, but one can imagine that he would see no reason to reconsider his assessment in the light of subsequent events. In 2011, Nawash endorsed the neo-McCarthyite hearings chaired by Rep. Peter King on the „radicalisation of American Muslims“, and condemned the Muslim and Arab-American antidiscrimination organisations for their opposition to King’s efforts to further scapegoat and criminalise the Muslim community. When it was revealed this year that the NYPD had, for years, been carrying out a massive, illegal programme of spying on virtually the entire Muslim community of the Five Boroughs, Nawash, along with representatives of other Muslim astroturf groups organised a joint rally in support of the NYPD spying effort with none other than Rep. King himself.
Looking at this trajectory, one might be excused for speculating that Nawash’s conversion from moderate Republican and defender of Muslim and Arab-American rights to Pipes pet was not entirely free of opportunism.
Opportunism, as we will see as this series progresses, is something of an overarching theme.
* * * * * * *
UPDATE: In the twelve hours since this post went live, someone temporarily shut down my Facebook account, and there was an attempt to hack this blog. It appears someone might have succeeded in changing my blog password, thus preventing me getting in. All appears well now, but it does seem that someone is not exactly chuffed to bits that this article was published. They will be positively unecstatic about the subsequent parts of this series.
Meanwhile, Ali Abunimah has published his „final word“ on the debacle that gave rise to this series:
Should I have been more explicit about what I saw? Perhaps, but I had my reasons to take a more restrained approach. I had hoped that by sounding the alarm, and signaling that Berlin’s explanations were not credible, Berlin herself would begin to take the issue seriously, and that the new Free Gaza board would do the same. Sadly that did not happen.
The most dispiriting spectacle over the past two weeks was seeing Berlin disseminating, and a small group of people embellishing, outlandish stories intended to distract and shift the blame on to those who were asking for accountability.
Almost every day, I’ve received emails alleging, among other things, that I am a “Zionist agent,” that I’ve been “conned” by Israel into attacking Berlin so that Israel can steal Gaza’s natural gas, that I am engaged in a “vendetta” because Berlin endorsed a book I didn’t like, and so on. A few of these messages came from people I had previously believed to be reasonable and sensible, which added to the disappointment.
Read the full article here.
Bekah Wolf of Mondoweiss has also come out with a piece very germane to the topic of this series, documenting what some of us had been saying since this began: This wasn’t just one accidental tweet. Alas, Greta Berlin has form.
Some people have come to Greta’s defense, accepting her assertion that this was a technical mistake, that she did not support the content of the video, and that those who have criticized her response to the “mistake” are on a witch hunt. I’d like to acknowledge that the Free Gaza Movement was not synonymous with Greta Berlin; some of my good friends and people I deeply respect were leaders of that movement and their work and commitment should in no way be minimized by this.
Setting aside Greta’s woefully inadequate explanations for the tweet (of which there were several), the fact remains: Greta is an active administrator of a Facebook group that is full of unabashedly anti-Semitic rhetoric and has been called out before by activists for it but has never done anything to challenge or stop it. Since the controversy broke, the “Our Land” group has attempted to cover some of its tracks. The fact that Greta remains an active administrator of a Facebook group that accommodates this kind of bigotry raises serious issues about her commitment to building an anti-racist movement committed to justice and equality. Moreover, her unprincipled, vicious andIslamophobic attacks on the Palestinians who have called her to task for her behavior should alarm all of us who are committed to Palestine solidarity work.
The full article can be found here.